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Massage Today
August, 2012, Vol. 12, Issue 08

Extending the Benefits of Massage By Using Aromatherapy

By Shellie Enteen, RA, BA, LMBT

Most massage therapists interested in using essential oils as part of their sessions can easily relate to the idea of the physical properties of each of the oils and how they can be applied for a client's specific needs.

Those familiar with the concept of subtle aromatherapy, which I have written about in previous columns, also know that a client can have the specific mental, emotional and spiritual energies that are part of the symptoms being presented directly addressed and assisted by using appropriate essential oils in the massage oil blend. But what happens after the client leaves the office?

On the purely physical level, essential oils can take from 18 to 24 hours to be processed and eliminated by the body. This is one of the reasons it is important to educate yourself and your clients about certain contraindications, such as increased UV impact on skin cells for the expressed citrus oils of lemon (Citrus limon), lime (Citrus aurantifolia) and bergamot (Citrus bergamia). Another example is the heightened intoxicant ability of clary sage (Salvia sclarea) that could easily cause unpleasant affects for a client who might consume alcohol at a dinner or party shortly after their massage. But this long lasting quality of essential oils is also a great benefit when working with clients who have chronic or acute inflammation and pain. It greatly enhances and extends the relief the client gets from the hands on techniques.

Aromatherapy - Copyright – Stock Photo / Register Mark Along with delivering the essential oils to the body through application, simple inhalation of lavender (Lavandula angustifolia) has been shown to relieve pain and stress. The question of whether it is the stress relief achieved by inhalation alone that is responsible for the lowered pain experience has not been determined, but that has been suggested as a distinct possibility by research oriented aromatherapists like Robert Tisserand. Other essential oils with anti-anxiety properties, such as Roman chamomile (Anthemis nobilis), geranium (Pelargonium graveolens), sweet marjoram (Origanum majorana), patchouli (Pogostemom cablin), rose (Rosa damascena) and ylang ylang (Cananga odorata) can also demonstrate this stress relieving effect upon inhalation. Certainly, both therapist and client receive these benefits during the use of an aromatic massage oil blend.

Other ways to extend massage benefits with essential oils include giving the remainder of the blend to the client for home use. In a previous article, I mentioned that in order to sell an essential oil or blend, the therapist must have a retail license and collect taxes where required by law. But if the blend involved is part of the client's session, an extra amount can be created and given to the client as part of that session. This would require the massage session to cost more of course, but it does bypass the retail issues.

I would advise that whenever the client is going to leave with an aromatherapy blend for home use, they be given a "directions for use" form with the blend so they will know exactly what to do with it once they are at home. Verbal directions heard when a client is relaxed and focused on check out issues might not be retained as well. If they are given only the remaining massage oil, it can be used as a spot treatment a certain number of times a day and it can also be mixed into bath salts and used in a bath. If a small bottle of the undiluted blend itself is given for some reason, be sure to also include directions for proper dilution before use on the skin. Undiluted essences would be appropriate for room diffusion and inhalation, for dilution into honey, cream or bath salts for bathing, or for being added to an unscented carrier oil to create more for topical use. That could be helpful if the client is not going to be able to return for several weeks and they are dealing with a chronic issue, like arthritis. Essences I might avoid for bath use would be peppermint (Mentha x piperita), as it can be highly irritating to sensitive skin or mucous membranes, lemon (Citrus limon) and pine (Pinus sylvestris), unless it is certain that these are not old oils that have oxidized to become more irritating, and the above mentioned expressed citrus oils of lime and bergamot, due to their phototoxic potentials.

Be sure to keep a record of the exact essential oils and amount of drops to amount of carrier oil that was used for each client and the directions for use given. The good reports received about the extended benefits from using essential oils when the client returns will not only bring satisfaction but could easily result in increased referrals.

General Aromatherapy Bath Directions

Draw a hot tub that is not so hot that it will cause excessive perspiration. While the tub is filling, add all or part of the diluted aromatic massage oil to 2 cups of Epsom salts, mixing well. And undiluted blend can be added by drop to a tablespoon of honey or a cup of heavy cream. Up to 15 drops may be used and let the aroma be your guide. Again, mix well for complete dilution.

Once you are seated in the tub, add the essential oils (salts, honey, cream) to the water and swirl, inhaling deeply. Soak for 10 minutes and enjoy!

Click here for previous articles by Shellie Enteen, RA, BA, LMBT.


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